By Russ Dilday
In many parts of the world, including Kenya, there is a stigma attached to those living with HIV/AIDS. It cost Rose Odouri of Busia, Kenya, her marriage. Her children were sent to live with her mother. She couldn’t earn a living. Like many with the illness, she was living a half-life.
But Buckner stepped in to help, leaving her now feeling, in her words, “whole.”
“I was rejected by everyone because of my condition. My family didn’t want me. My children didn’t want me. At times when people saw me, they ridiculed me because of my illness,” she recalls.
“When my family knew I had AIDS,” she continued, “they felt that if I touched my children, they would be infected. They took my children away from me so they would not get AIDS.”
After her mother died, she said, her children were returned, but she and the children had no means of income and no access to food. “I was left without any help. Then Buckner came to visit.”
Buckner social workers, based at the Buckner Community Development Center in Busia, learned of Rose’s issues and responded with humanitarian aid, medical assistance through the CDC’s clinic and funds for food and medicine.
“Buckner came at a difficult time for me. Buckner visited me and helped me with food so the children could eat. If I needed cooking oil, I was able to get it. At times, we only had porridge.
“Even now they help me with money to buy my basic needs,” she said. “At times, I have to buy oil for my lantern. Sometimes I can even buy some clothing. I don’t know about my life, but I know that when Buckner came it really helped me. If I continue this way I will live more years.”
Rose said she has asked herself, “’Where would I be without Buckner?’ I don’t know what it would have been like. I don’t know. It was God who brought them to me. Can’t you see I have joy? I pray that God will continue to help me and help all Buckner’s children.”
The help, she said, has changed her life and her spirit. “Nowadays, if people insult me because I have AIDS, I am able to laugh. When I am out walking someone will say, ‘Rose, how are you doing?’ I can answer them. They gave me confidence about myself. I feel completely free.”
“Because of Buckner I am whole – in my spirit, even with my sickness, I am whole. Because of Buckner I feel alive.”
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